The Violence That Dares Not
Speak Its Name
Invisibility in the Lives of Lesbian and Bisexual
South Asian American Women
PRAJNA PARAMITA CHOUDHURY
In embarking upon writing this essay, I feel a great responsibility knowing that mine is the only representation of lesbian and bisexual women's experiences in an anthology on South Asian American women. Initially, I tried to assuage this pressure of representing my community accurately by soliciting the input and feedback of two other queer South Asian women working in the antiviolence movement.1 The impossibility of incorporating the views and experiences of all queer South Asian women into one chapter soon became apparent, and my collaborators encouraged me to stay with one perspective. As with any sole representation of a minority group in a forum, I do not claim to represent all queer South Asian women, who are as diverse as our subcontinent and the diaspora. I share my own views and experiences, informed by many working to end violence within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), immigrant, and people of color communities. I share this in the hope that we can begin recognizing, acknowledging, and responding as a South Asian community to the violence experienced by this segment of our community.
Unfortunately, while there is a growing body of literature by and about queer South Asians, there is a scarcity of research specific to this population. Thus, I pull from personal experiences, anecdotes, case studies, and the body of research on violence experienced by the general LGBT population in the United States. While some of the findings may be extrapolated to the South Asian LGBT community, there may also be specificities within this community that cannot be assumed by this body of work.
When I think about the violence experienced by South Asian American lesbian and bisexual women, the most common and pervasive violence, the one underlying all